Subject Matters: Turning Your Favorite School Subject into a Career
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
For many students, school subjects turn into interests which evolve into a passions, and often become careers. Sometimes it’s a lifelong dream come true, and other times it’s an unforeseen path that we travel down and connect the dots later on. So whether a student’s strong suit is math and they dream of being an accountant, or they’re still putting the pieces of the puzzle together, it will all make sense in the long run.
We asked professionals in various fields to tell us about their favorite school subject(s), and how it led to a specific career. Here’s what they had to say:
“I always remembered that one science class in high school—where I started to learn how the Earth and Universe actually worked. There, I pondered the mystery of life for the very first time, and then dreamt wildly about what it was all about. As I grew older, I started writing songs about space, and sang them to fans across the world over. But then, those galactic fascinations turned into self-authored books that are now going to be movies. But NEVER in my life would I have imagined that the little scientific spark that was created in the ninth grade would lead me to where I am at this moment, as I write this. Now, I am not just creating imaginative science-fiction stories, but I own an aerospace company that is building a propulsion device that can fold the fabric of space-time… You may know it by it’s other name—Time Travel.” Tom DeLonge, musician from Blink-182, Angels & Airwaves, and boxcar racer, singer, songwriter, author
“My favorite subject in school was always science. I loved it because it talked about creation, the earth and how the body works. It was always hands-on, which was the best way for me to learn. All of this lead me to nursing. Being a nurse you have to understand how the body works and how even though our bodies are created the same we are all different. I love the challenge of using my knowledge of science to understand the human body but also understanding that all are wired differently so finding how to best treat that individual is so important! I love hands-on [work]—and true nursing is hands-on—and caring for your patient as [if] they were your family. It also helped that my mother taught biology and all sciences so my love came naturally. She taught me the love for nature and all living things.” Hazel Snead, registered nurse certified in neonatal intensive care for 23 years, currently a registered nurse navigator/care coordinator
“I have always loved science, and biological sciences were my absolute favorite! You could always catch me watching National Geographic Kids, reading science-themed books, and helping my grandma on her farm where I learned a lot about horses and cows and explored the natural environment around her land. This interest in science evolved into an interest in conservation science, then educator positions at Sea World and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, then later as a teacher! I love teaching science now, and to see my students’ interest ignite in the same subjects I was fascinated with is the best part of being a teacher!” Samantha Kimmel, seventh grade science teacher, Florida Cyber Charter Academy
Other science-related career fields include: astronomer, meteorologist, chemist, electrician, pilot, sound engineer, nuclear technician, and more.
“English was my favorite subject. I remember taking my journal with me everywhere, and I would write about anything and everything from personal life events to creating extravagant stories about the toys in my Happy Meal. That’s why I’m a good marketer, because for me it’s about the love of language and engaging people. I write blog posts, copy for social media, emails, and more as a way to tell a story, share a solution, and, most importantly, connect with people.” Brittany Marklin, content writer and community manager for K12 Inc.
Other English-related career fields include: software developer, public relations, human resources, advertising, copywriter, news reporter, stock broker, and more.
“I always enjoyed math, especially more advanced applications like calculus. Working with numbers has always felt natural to me and I have always been intrigued by computers, tinkering with them since I first got my hands on one, so when I realized I could turn multiple passions into a computer science career, it was an obvious progression.” Wil Collins, software engineer at Collective Health
“I grew up enjoying math—from fractions to differentials, I nearly always enjoyed the chance to solve puzzles. I think it’s part of why I enjoy being a doctor—healing a sick person is similar to solving a complex problem and I get a lot of enjoyment from that aspect of being a surgeon.” Luke Coury, doctor of dental surgery, training in oral and maxillofacial surgery
“I always loved science class. Whether we were learning about the types of clouds or using the scientific method to design an experiment, I always saw science as an amazing tool to understand the world. As an aquarist, I use the problem-solving techniques I learned through my science education to take excellent care of fish at an aquarium. I make sure they are getting the best possible care and learn to adjust my work to ensure that they are always getting the right care for their changing needs. I also use my understanding to help other people appreciate these animals. Inspiring the public to care for these amazing animals and conserve our resources makes my work helpful to animals living out in the wild as well.” Kristin Coury, aquarist at the National Aquarium
“In school, my favorite subjects were math and science. I enjoyed how things added up to a greater whole. An equation or cell has its parts and how they work together creates something more, greater. As a counselor I use this same passion to see the person as a whole and as a sum of their parts. They are not defined by just one part or experience. This helps me to stay curious, to help people understand their parts including their past, their pain, their joy, and their strengths. By knowing these parts they can heal and integrate them to be their most complete self.” Samantha Sult, LPC, licensed professional counselor
“Growing up, my favorite subjects were art and math. I loved solving problems, but art provided me with a sense of creative freedom. It was in high school when I took my first economics class, and it wasn’t until college when I got my first internship that I was exposed to finance and wealth management. Now I work in finance which allows me to utilize both of these subjects I enjoyed through problem solving and finding creative solutions. I really ended up in a field I never knew much about growing up, and it goes to show you that there are so many possibilities out there where you can utilize the things you love and are good at.” Corinne Heiberger, senior registered associate, Private Wealth Management
“In school, I loved geometry, math and science and, quite frankly, anything that made me scratch my head and think a little. I found great pleasure in being the only one who could solve the problem in school. So today, I solve problems for myself, other businesses, and government agencies; and I teach them to do the same for themselves!” Wanda Savage-Moore, president, chief operating officer, and part-owner of JJA Consultants
Other math-related career fields include: economist, financial planner, data analyst, statistician, accountant, investment banker, and more.
“I have always loved learning about history, because it gives me a better understanding of the world around me. History shows you the events, people, and systems that have shaped the world’s cultures. Studying history also helps build your skills in writing, research, and analytical thinking. You have to evaluate sources and consider different perspectives in order to gain an understanding. I use all these skills in my daily work!” Lauren Reuscher, community manager, George Mason University
“As a student, I always loved history and government and had aspirations of becoming president one day! However, my skills and strengths were always in writing, so I ended up majoring in communication in college and went on to become a professional writer and content marketer. My passions for history and government, though, are not lost! I still enjoy visiting museums and exploring history again through the eyes of my kids.” Letise Dennis, content writer and social media specialist for Learning Liftoff
Other history-related career fields include: lawyer, paralegal, librarian, journalist, anthropologist, archivist, conversationalist, and more.
“I started acting when I was only ten-years-old and quickly learned that the key to being a good actor is the ability to display human traits, emotions, and quirks believably; even when you don’t have those traits or quirks, nor have experienced those emotions personally. Growing up, I studied people. Watched their facial expressions, paid attention to how they moved, talked, cried, etc. Years later, when I went to college at age 27, it felt like a natural fit for me to study psychology. And I was right. The empathy required to be an actor is also necessary to be a therapist who truly helps people and all the work I’ve done throughout my career studying people really paid off. In my case, my job came first but it helped me find another passion should I ever decide to leave entertainment and be a part of a helping profession.” Danielle Fishel, actress
“Economics was always my favorite subject in school. Anything related to business actually. When I was a kid, I’d always come up with tons of ideas on different businesses I would have. Once I tried to start my own newspaper, from my parents basement, using only an old typewriter. Once I categorized all my baseball cards and set up a ‘store’ in my room. Once I thought I’d open a bicycle repair shop in my basement to fix my friend’s bikes, it didn’t matter that I knew nothing about bicycle repairs, nor that my closest neighbor was ten miles away, I always had an entrepreneurial drive. If it wasn’t something that was business related, I was usually goofing off, being a class clown, and using my imagination to draw or create movies in my head. Now, I own multiple companies in the entertainment industry. I make movies and TV shows, I own one of the largest literary management companies in Hollywood, and own a finance company with offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Canada. It all stemmed from my love of being a class clown, making people smile, and a love of business.” Stan Spry, film producer, founding partner of the Cartel, and literary manager and producer
“I loved choir and band classes when I was in school. I’ll never forget my first solo in the choir as long as I live. There was this feeling that I was a part of something that made people feel something bigger than their ordinary day. When I was in band class I played saxophone. I didn’t necessarily fall in love with the instrument as much as I loved how everyone sounded together when we were ready and practiced up. Growing up, I was really into sports but because I tried band and choir classes I found something that really interested me and gave me a sense of accomplishment. I began playing guitar and singing at the age of 17 and have been doing it for a living ever since. Today, I am a worship pastor at a local church, still singing, playing, and enjoying helping others who enjoy music as much as I do. Don’t be afraid to try new things and then when you find it, don’t stop!” Josh Zabawski, worship pastor
“A class that led me to love event management was public speaking. Although it didn’t necessarily teach me about events and lead me to events, it did show me my love for talking with and meeting new people. It taught me how to speak and write professionally and with confidence, which is so valuable when meeting with clients for their event and for running an event overall. I give that class a lot of credit because I am able to conduct smooth client meetings, as well as work with as many as 200+ people to run a wedding with only my verbal skills.” Jillian Coury, event planner and coordinator
What’s your favorite school subject? Feel free to tell us in the comments below, or SHOW US in K12’s Thirteenth Annual Art Competition for a chance to win! Read the complete details and contest rules and enter by October 31.
Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.